Insufficient access to social services, particularly education, health, water and sanitation is one of the most pressing issues facing rural communities in Pakistan. Together, the lack of these critical services is why premature death, disease and poverty remain unabated in Pakistan. Education, healthcare and clean water are considerably more inaccessible to women and children in rural areas, mostly as a result of restrictive social practices, institutional inadequacies, and economic and political realities. Disturbingly, over half of the country does not have access to improved sanitation.
Pakistan suffers from a well-known lack of public and private systems for developing and maintaining its social sector. According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) of 2006-07, the country has alarmingly high rates of maternal mortality (276 per 100,000 live births), infant mortality (78 deaths per 1,000 live births) and under five child mortality (94 deaths per 1,000 live births).
Pakistan has a net enrollment rate of 56% and a literacy rate of 58%, amongst the lowest in the world. Access to potable water is 93%, of which only 24% of households have access to piped water.
These statistics represent national averages, but the situation is considerably worse in rural Pakistan, where weak social service delivery is profoundly visible. RSPN’s approach to improving access to education, healthcare and water and sanitation facilities has been to create community-based institutions that act as self contained mechanisms of local development and accountability, which work together to form a bridge between communities and formal systems. RSPN’s Social Sector section supports the RSPs in their work to help organized, rural communities overcome the challenges they face in these key social sector area.